Husker coaches and University of Nebraska officials will take a whistle-stop tour on Union Pacific Railroad's historic train cars. The journey begins in Omaha and ends in North Platte, making a few stops along the way to visit with fans this Saturday, June 28. The 16-car "Big Red Express Whistle-Stop Tour" will make stops in Columbus, Grand Island and Kearney, and ends in North Platte on the one-day tour.
Whistle-stop tours were popular in the 19th century, a time when long distance travel by passenger train was considered normal. At each stop, speeches would be given from the train, allowing politicians to make instant connections with the people at each stop.
During the whistle-stops of the Union Pacific Big Red Express Tour, there will be question-and-answer sessions with select Husker coaches who were able to attend and a proclamation will be presented from UP and Husker coaches to each city’s mayor.
Coaches participating in the whistle-stop tour include: Chuck Chmelka (men’s gymnastics); David Harris (cross country); Scott Jacobson (women’s tennis); Dan Kendig (women's gymnastics); Robin Krapfl (women’s golf); Kerry McDermott (men’s tennis); Tim Miles (men’s basketball); Pablo Morales (swimming and diving); Bo Pelini (football); Rhonda Revelle (softball); Bill Spangler (men’s golf); Bill Straub (bowling); John Walker (soccer); and Connie Yori (women’s basketball). (Note: the majority of the Husker head coaches will attend all stops, but scheduling conflicts have prohibited some coaches from attending.)
In Columbus, men’s basketball coach Tim Miles, and women’s basketball coach Connie Yori will participate in a question-and-answer session with voice of the Huskers, Greg Sharpe. Men’s gymnastics coach Chuck Chmelka and women’s golf coach Robin Krapfl will receive the proclamation from Mayor Michael Moser.
In Grand Island, football coach Bo Pelini, men’s basketball coach Tim Miles, and softball coach Rhonda Revelle will participate in a question-and-answer session with Sharpe. Cross country coach Dave Harris, and men’s tennis coach Kerry McDermott will receive the proclamation from Mayor Jay Vavricek.
In Kearney, Pelini, Miles and Yori will participate in a question-and-answer session with Sharpe. Women’s tennis coach Scott Jacobson and bowling coach Bill Straub will receive the proclamation from Mayor Stanley Clouse.
In North Platte, the last stop on the tour, Pelini, women’s gymnastics coach Dan Kendig and women’s soccer coach John Walker will be participate in a question-and-answer session with Sharpe. Swimming and diving coach Pablo Morales and men’s golf coach Bill Spangler will receive the proclamation from Mayor Dwight Livingston.
Other NU representatives participating in the Big Red Express Whistle-Stop Tour include: Brian Hastings, President and Chief Executive Officer of the University of Nebraska Foundation; Diane Mendenhall, Executive Director of the Nebraska Alumni Association; Prem Paul, UNL Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development; Donde Plowman, Dean of the UNL College of Business Administration; Michelle Waite, Assistant to the UNL Chancellor for Community Relations; Tim Wei, UNL Dean of the College of Engineering and Ellen Weissinger, UNL Senior Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs.
Nebraska athletic administrators that will be aboard for the whistle-stop tour include Marc Boehm, Executive Associate Athletic Director; Bob Burton, Senior Associate Athletic Director; John Jentz, Senior Associate Athletic Director/Chief Financial Officer; Dennis Leblanc, Senior Associate Athletic Director for Academics; Pat Logsdon, Senior Associate Athletic Director/Senior Woman Administrator; Jamie Vaughn, Associate Athletic Director for Compliance; Steve Waterfield, Senior Associate Athletic Director for Performance and Strategic Research; Jamie Williams, Associate Athletic Director for Leadership, Student-Athlete Recruitment and Diversity Initiatives; and Keith Zimmer, Associate Athletic Director for Life Skills and N Club.
At each stop, before the UP Big Red Express train arrives, a 30-minute pep rally presented and hosted by Husker Sports Network affiliates will take place. The programming will also feature participation from local former student-athletes.
Whistle Stop #1 – Columbus (north side of 26th Avenue Crossing)
Columbus Pep Rally:
9:35 a.m. – 10:05 a.m. Husker Sports Network Affiliate KJSK/KLIR
Former Student-Athletes Participating in Columbus Pep Rally: Amanda Gates – VB; Clete Pillen - FB; Dan Steiner - FB; Dan Pensick – FB
Columbus Big Red Express Whistle-Stop:
10:05 a.m. – 10:55 a.m. Emcee Greg Sharpe Interviews Coaches: Tim Miles, Connie Yori
Proclamation Coaches: Chuck Chmelka, Robin Krapfl
Whistle Stop #2 – Grand Island (South side of Oak Street Crossing)
Grand Island Pep Rally:
11:55 a.m. – 12:25 p.m. Husker Sports Network Affiliate KRGI
Former Student-Athletes Participating in Grand Island Pep Rally: Gary Schneider - FB; Tom Wald - MBKB; Cory Schlesinger - FB; Abby Penas- SC; Tom Gdowski – FB
Grand Island Big Red Express Whistle-Stop:
12:25 p.m. – 1:15 p.m. Emcee Greg Sharpe Interviews Coaches: Bo Pelini, Tim Miles, Rhonda Revelle
Proclamation Coaches: Dave Harris, Kerry McDermott
Whistle Stop #3 – Kearney (North side of Central Avenue Crossing)
Kearney Pep Rally:
1:50 p.m. – 2:20 p.m. Husker Sports Network Affiliate KGFW
Former Student-Athletes Participating in Kearney Pep Rally: Dennis Thorell – FB; Monte Kratzenstein – FB
Kearney Big Red Express Whistle-Stop:
2:20 p.m. – 3:10 p.m. Emcee Greg Sharpe Interviews Coaches: Bo Pelini, Tim Miles, Connie Yori
Proclamation Coaches: Scott Jacobson, Bill Straub
Whistle Stop #4 – North Platte (Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center, 1245 No. Homestead Road)
North Platte Pep Rally:
4:50 p.m. – 5:20 p.m. Husker Sports Network Affiliate KODY
Former Student-Athletes Participating in North Platte Pep Rally: Brady Caskey – FB; Steve Carmer – FB; Lance Lewis -- FB
North Platte Big Red Express Whistle-Stop:
5:40 p.m. – 6:26 p.m. Emcee Greg Sharpe interviews Coaches: Bo Pelini, Dan Kendig, John Walker Proclamation Coaches: Pablo Morales, Bill Spangler